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8 replies
Canada and the USA - Driving Advice
vauxhallgazz
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My girlfriend and I am looking to head to Toronto in mid September this year and we were wondering how easy it is to get into the USA, etc.

Apparently the cities of: Detroit, New York City and Buffalo are all within easy driving distance of Toronto.

There is a few questions we would like answered before we go (if anyone out there can help)….

(1) – How easy is it to get into the USA (via Canada), at the border, etc? (Considering we are not from either of the 2 countries).

(2) – Would I be allowed the rent a car in Canada and drive it into the USA?

(3) – Will my UK Driver’s Licence permit me to drive a vehicle in North America?

(4) – Is it worthwhile driving to either of these cities? Alternatively, would going by train, etc, be a better option.

Anymore advice on Toronto (or any of the other places I mentioned) would be excellent.

Thank you.

mb
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Borderwise, I assume that you would show your UK passport just as an American would do in Europe.

Where you can drive the car would probably be up to the company you rent from. I’ve heard that if you rent a car in Western Europe, you won’t be allowed to take it into Eastern Europe.

Don’t know about the drivers license. As an American, I am supposed to have an International Drivers License/Permit.

Number 4 answers the other questions. Take the train. Parking will be almost impossible in New York. I live in a small town down south and just yesterday it was a problem finding a place to park. Most of the people there use the subway to get around. If it’s late at night, take a cab.

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

oldlady
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Quote:
2) – Would I be allowed the rent a car in Canada and drive it into the USA?
Yes, but you need to read all the fine print. Some rentals are limited to one country, specific states or even a certain mile radius. Most of the cars have some sort of GPS on them so they’ll know if you go outside the area of your contract — and may charge you outrageous prices.
Quote:
(3) – Will my UK Driver’s Licence permit me to drive a vehicle in North America?
Yes, but I would get an “international driving permit” before you leave home. You don’t want to be in some backwater somewhere and have local law enforcement think you don’t have a valid license.
Quote:
4) – Is it worthwhile driving to either of these cities? Alternatively, would going by train, etc, be a better option.
I would look into taking the train to NYC. Parking costs as much as a budget hotel room there. I wouldn’t go to Detroit — but it is totally “motor city” so drive there if you go. It’s a tribute to the automobile, freeways and driving. I’d drive toward Buffalo to see Niagara Falls, but I probably wouldn’t make it all the way to Buffalo. The best views of Niagara Falls are from the Canadian side. You may want the view from the top on the American side, but you can get the “postcard picture” without crossing the border.

luv_the_beach
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Ditto on oldlady’s advice on Detroit and Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls can just be a daytrip from Toronto. No need to cross the border. I live in the US, and have never been to the American side of the Falls.

If you’re going to spend 3 – possibly 4 – hours to drive from Toronto to the border at Windsor/Detroit, you’ll might as well keep on driving through Detroit, and head for Chicago. In fact, you’ll might as well not even cross the border at Detroit where you may run into traffic; you can cross at Sarnia/Port Huron. But do visit Detroit if you’re interested in seeing a deserted city, and the gross failure of American post-WWII automobile-centric urban planning, now exacerbated by the departure of manufacturing jobs.

Not as many foreign tourists visit Chicago as they do New York, but it’s a great city, and very walkable with good urban transit, very similar to Toronto. And it’s the same distance, roadwise, from Toronto as New York.

In the Northeast USA, rely on trains. Definitely visit Montréal, and from there, you can take a train down to New York. Boston is also connected to New York by train, and worth a visit. You can then take rail travel back to Toronto.

On entering the US on a UK passport: I’ve heard some horror stories about dumbass power-hungry border agents, but the vast majority of British nationals have no problem. As a British national, you are allowed a 90-day visa-free stay in the United States.


beach-lunch-siesta-beach-shower-dinner-nightlife-repeat

vauxhallgazz
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Will we need Visas as well ? To get into the USA ?

oldlady
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http://www.eurotrip…. This is a sticky on the “cheap flights” forum.

heemer
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I really hope I dont offend anyone, but for the sake of your vacation I have to tell you that Buffalo and Detroit are terrrible. Just aweful. I wouldnt go anywhere near either. There are some decent spots outside of Buffalo for outdoors sort of stuff but overall Id figure out another plan.

As luv the beach said, if you want to go to the US, Chicago is easily your best bet. Its the best city in that country IMO and about 8hrs drive away, so its do-able. If youre in Toronto, check out Porter Airlines. They fly return to chicago for about $200 – $250 total from Toronto’s downtown Island airport to chicago’s downtown Midway airport. You only have to show up half an hour before your flight meaning you can be in Chi-town in like 2.5 hours door to door.

If you want to go to NYC, I have to disagree with a previous poster. The train is miserable and somehow makes the trip much much longer than it needs to be. Cross-border trains dont really happen to well in North America. Porter also has flights to NYC, but check out Megabus. You can sometimes find $1 tickets to new york.

As for the border, the US border guys are notorious jerks (Ill avoid getting to heated about it). Even still, you only have to put up with it for 10 min while you fill out a short VISA form and youre on your way.

Also, Montreal is great, one of the best places in the world ive been to so dont miss out on that if you have a chance to get over there. The drive is easy, pretty much a straight line, but there is also trains that take only 4.5hrs and about 25 flights a day that sometimes go on sale.

Jayson
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U will have to keep your visa with u wherever u go. U should have your International driving license and permit wherever u go. Have a safe journey.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” (Keep traveling).

melanieer
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I agree with Heemer. Detroit and Buffalo are not good places to go, I’ve been to both and was happy to go home. Chicago is wonderful. I live about a 6 hours drive away, but I go every chance I get. I’ve been there 7 or 8 times and I still discover something new every time I go. I’m actually going to Niagara Falls next week and I agree with Old Lady. Not only is the view better, but there is a lot more to do on the Canadian side.

I am leaving from cleveland, ohio and traveling for 25 days
London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Berne, Monaco, Milan, Venice, Rome
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights